Give Me Your House, I Want to Build a Mini-Mall

I found this interesting bit today regarding our Supreme Court's recent mistake.

The only problem I have with it is that last comment which reads, "Telling of how the left's lust for government power really affects the poor, isn' it?" We have a conservative court. Otherwise, a very significant listing of examples of how Americans really just want to fuck each other over for money.

Hootie: She Is a Famous Dog

My wife and I love our dog. And now the world will too. See our famous dog here.

The Way to Amarillo

With my summer off, I've been spending a great deal of time surfing the web. It's a reasonably good pastime when it's 95 degrees outside. I think my favorite video that I've come across so far is a makeshift Neil Diamond video put together by some troops in Iraq. It makes me happy. Neil Diamond pretty much always make me happy.

I'm not sure, but it almost looks like they filmed it on a phone.

Supreme Court Decides: Shopping Malls Are More Important Than Your Property

Today the Supreme Court ruled that city and other local governments can take your house for pretty much any reason as long as it fits some local ex-student coucil president's idea of "the public good." Basically, the Court decided that local governments are allowed to use eminent domain to take people's homes and businesses, even if they aren't blighted, for "public use." Local governments have been pulling this kind of crap for a long time, but this is the first time the Supreme Court has given such a broad definition of eminent domain.

I understand that there are times when eminent domain may be the necessary last option in order to build something that truly is in the public's best interest. Roads, or dams, or even a hospital might be projects that I would think could fall under the definition of the public good. Even the careful redevelopment of a "blighted area" could be a reasonable case for using eminent domain. I can also appreciate that progress must sometimes include the violation of certain people's rights when no other options remain. But the Court has essentially given big business and investors, and the local governments that court them (no pun intended), a green light to ruin people's lives and happiness so they can bring Americans another Walmart or Target or, in the case of the Connecticut residents who took their case to the High Court, a fucking hotel.

The Court ruled today that local governments are in a far better position to decide what is in the best interests of their citizens than a federal judge. The problem is that local governments are far more corruptable than a federal judge, and stand to gain financially and otherwise by allowing and using a wide definition of the public good. Meanwhile average Joe's right to pursue happiness, not to mention his whole way of life, can be uprooted and destroyed because a small group of people would rather have hotel or a shopping mall instead of his house or farm. I find it hard to believe that a shopping mall, or a hotel, is ever more important than the property rights of an individual. In a day and age when our rights are constantly being chipped away, we need the Supreme Court to defend them, to ensure that the Constitution remains strong and protective of our rights and property. The High Court sadly failed in that duty today, to the greater peril of us all.

I'm Creepy

Yesterday I passed on the link for my web site to a colleague for whom I have much respect. She said my web site and blog were "creepy" and "self-serving." I just think that's cool.

The "End of the Year"

Being a teacher, I am perpetually on an American academic year. To me, years are marked by school, and not as much by January 1st. The end of the school year is always a time marked by the anticipation of a nice long break, the stress of managing 120 students who are also anticipating a nice long break while keeping them motivated (and keeping myself motivated), and the anxiety of not quite knowing what to do with the summer.

I always feel guilty for not working during the summer, but each year a lack of motivation and a job that will bend to my schedule works against my half-haearted goal of a part-time job. This year, for example, I was hell-bent on working to make some extra money, but as my summer schedule becomes clear, that becomes difficult. I have classes for much of June (teachers must stay up on things after all), and my wife and I want some time off in early July. I can't imagine too many places that would be willing to hire me with such limited availability.

Of course, I do also enjoy the time off, but after I get rested and relaxed, the last half of July starts to drag and I am bored during much of August. By the time school nears again, I am ready to go back. Most people say how lucky I am to have that time, and I am, but I think humans need to be reasonably occupied most of the time. Of course, I never seem to accomplish all those goals I set for myself at the start of summer, like the fabulous lesson planning with a dated syllabus for the next year, or that novel on which I keep meaning to work, or those guitar lessons I want to start. I do keep getting a little better each summer, but it's slow going.

A couple of my eighth graders almost died today. These boys haven't exactly been the picture of good behavior this year anyway, and now that the end is near for them, they are really pushing their limits. The sounds of flatulence during a test, and constant giggling at inappropriate times try my patience and judgement. I have to remind myself how they must be absolutely dying to get out of school, and that Lincoln's disciplining of Gen. McClellan is far from their thoughts of girls and a summer at the pool. Of course, fart sounds are always funny as well, which makes it all the more difficult. But I also don't want to allow a few bad apples to spoil the experience of the final days of eighth grade for all my students. The point is that by the end of the year, I will be ready for a break, because no matter how I handle my current crop of misbehaving kids, it'll wear me out.

Then of course, there's the kids you wish you could keep another year, just to see how they continue to grow intellectually. As a teacher I am so proud of them and happy to see them move on to new and better things, to a world of more opportunity, but I am also saddened to know that I won't get to teach them again. I guess no matter what, it's just the end of another long (or short) year.

5-7-5...It's Haiku Day!

I just love haiku.
They are educational.
They make me happy.

Please read my haiku.
They were really fun to write.
Poems make me laugh.

A New Pope

Today I watched, with my students, history being made as a new Pope was announced. I felt tears come to my eyes but I fought them back (because to let a tear fall in front of your 8th graders will kill the rest of the class period). It's not often we get to watch one of the last vestiges of history and tradition being carried out before our eyes, especially when you live in a country so disconnected from the past and from God. I will not forget the day Pope Benedict XVI was announced. May God bless him, the vicar of Christ on Earth.

Job Application Letter to HP

Dear Hewlett-Packard Company,

I recently read an article in the news that you have named Mark Hurd as your new Chief Executive Officer and President. While I realize you may have received many applications for this position, you seem to have overlooked mine. I respectfully request that you hold off on moving forward with your decision to name Mr. Hurd as your CEO and President until you have at least read this application letter.

I would be an excellent choice to lead your great company for many reasons. In addition to outstanding communication and interpersonal skills, I have ample management experience and vision to lead your company into the future. I have held management positions in the food service industry as well as in the computer retail industry. Specifically I was a dining room supervisor at the now rejuvinated Ground Round Restaurants for three years while in college, and I worked as a customer service supervisor at MicroCenter where, by the way, I saw a lot of your products in our shop. Trust me, if I can be an effective leader and an example to others in those shit jobs, I would be perfect for your board room. I am currently a middle school teacher, and you can just imagine the kind of management experience I have gained in that job.

Another reason you should consider me over Mr. Hurd is that I have a great familiarity with your products as a user and as a salesperson. In fact I have owned two HP printers in my time, beginning with the legendary DeskJet 500. That thing is a tank! I still have it somewhere and it has never stopped working. Currently I use a DeskJet 832C and I love it. That little baby got me through graduate school. Finally, I have spent hours fixing my mother-in-law's HP Pavillion. Man, what a pain. But you should know it's mostly her fault, and I think the Pavillion series are strong products over all.

I also have ample sales experience involving HP products. When I was a Macintosh sales rep at MicroCenter, pretty much the only decent printers that would work with them were yours. Man, Apple must love you guys. In any case, I think that you will find I have excellent product knowledge and the ability to undertand the technical aspects of the CEO position. I won't even need help hooking up my computer in my office (and that's money saved).

Finally, I have reviewed the salary and benefits package that you have offered to Mr. Hurd, and I want you to know I would be a much more cost-effective choice. I am prepared to accept the job of CEO and President of your company for 10 percent of the value of Mr. Hurd's package, item for item. Just think, I haven't even accepted the job yet and I am already saving your company millions. Consider what other opportunities for growth and sensible economic decisions I can bring to HP.

In summary, I would not only be a fine choice to lead your great corporation, but I would be a much less expensive one. I propose you give me one year, and if you are not satisfied with my progress at that time, I'm sure Mr. Hurd will be happy to step in. I suspect, though, that you will be surprised at what I will do for your company, and at a fraction of the cost of Mr. Hurd.

Thank you for your time and attention.



Meijer Checkout Revelations

This afternoon I went to the local Meijer to pick up a few groceries and some postage stamps. As I was checking out, making small chit-chat with the lady running the register, a man came up in line directly after me. He placed eight packs of Rayovac D-cell batteries on the conveyer belt and waited for me to finish. He was tall, large, and wore a working man's clothes. I guess that he was an electrician or other skilled tradesman. As the checkout lady rang up my 12-pack of Sam Adams, she checked my driver's license. Now since the month is covered up by my wallet, I always make sure to tell the person checking it that my birthday is in July, which I did. After a moment she asks, "What number is that again? Six?"

"No," I say, "seven. July 23rd."

Then the man with a stock pile of batteries jokes and says, "That means he's seventeen." For a moment the lady pauses and looks concerned, then looks at me, smiles, and sort of chuckles.

Not be out done I laugh a good fake-supermarket-humor laugh and say, "Man, I wish," in my best 'we're all in this together' tone of voice. Then things got, well, odd.

The guy goes, "Man, you know there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I could go back. If I could just have another chance." After he said this there was a pause, as if he was waiting for a responce. I looked at the checkout lady, but she was clearly not going to be any help.

Unsure of how to respond I lamely answer, "Yeah."

"I mean I made a lot of mistakes," he continued. "I should have gone to college instead of sitting around and getting high all the time."

Now what the heck was I supposed to say to that? How do you respond to that? My first instinct was to agree, and say, 'Man you've got that right. You really look like you should have laid off the drugs.' Upon further review though, that seemed rude, despite my good intentions of being agreeable. I said nothing instead, and blushed. Then the man says something like, "I have regrets everyday."

Already feeling like an asshole, I smile and nod understandingly and say, "Tell me about it." I walked away pushing my cart, feeling like a big douche bag. I'm not sure what to take away from this incident. I feel bad for that guy; someone so unhappy with life that he felt the need to confess this at the Meijer checkout lane. Perhaps he thought I was younger than I was and was trying to teach me a lesson, spurred on by the sight of my twelve pack. Nonetheless he did, in fact, look as though he had experimented with a few too many chemicals in his younger days and perhaps continues to this day. I'm not sure what the point is here, other than I might take care to avoid all conversation while purchasing groceries from now on. I mean I don't mind being polite, or even jovial, but that was just strange. All in another day's shopping at the local Meijer I guess.

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